Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

California Chrome a paper tiger, bet farm on Dance With Fate

  • Print

On paper, California Chrome looks to be the easy winner of today's 140th running of the Kentucky Derby.

But they run the race on the sandy loam of Churchill Downs, not on paper, and it says here a bet on the heavy favourite today is a sucker bet.

Related Items

We'll get to who I think is your winner today in a moment. But first, here's why you'd be wasting your money on California Chrome, who might go off at some of the shortest odds in Derby history if his 5-2 morning line holds up today:

-- You know when the last time a California-bred like California Chrome won the Derby? JFK was president -- 1962. Just as bad, today will be the first time California Chrome has ever raced outside of California.

Horses that fit this profile go home disappointed on the first Saturday in May.

-- Yes, California Chrome has the two best Beyer numbers in the field -- a 107 and a 108. That's compelling, particularly in that they came in succession and in his last two outings. But there's a reason horse people pay big bucks for pedigree and California Chrome's sire, Lucky Pulpit, stands in the breeding shed for a comical $2,500 because he never won a race beyond 51/2 furlongs.

Length counts in horse racing. And today's 1-1/4 mile test is simply too long for California Chrome.

-- Speed kills.

His form -- and with 10 lifetime starts, California Chrome has an unusual amount of it for a three-year-old -- suggests he needs to be on or near the lead today to be effective. And today's field has a ridiculous amount of what can only be termed "cheap speed." Horses like Chitu, General a Rod, Wildcat Red and Uncle Sigh will all be racing out to the lead today and setting a torrid pace that is going to serve California Chrome poorly when the horses turn for home and all that speed gets reeled in.

-- 5-2 in a 19-horse field is just a bad bet.

You know why the history of the Derby is littered with long shot winners like 50-1 underdogs Giacomo in 2005 and Mine that Bird in 2009? Because a 19-horse field is like running a race down Portage Avenue at rush hour -- it's crazy, frustrating and unexpected things happen.

California Chrome has a beautiful form chart. Brings a tear to my eye. But he's never before raced in conditions even remotely resembling what he'll see today.

OK, so that's who is not going to win. So who is going to win?

Well, I think all that crazy speed up front sets up perfectly for someone to come from off-the-pace today and pick up the pieces in late stretch.

Danza -- who is partly owned by four Winnipeggers -- certainly fits that bill. He stalked a two-horse duel in the Arkansas Derby and then took over in the final turn to win at odds of 41-1. But that came after an absolutely dream trip. A ground-saving run on the rail which opened up perfectly in the final turn was tailor made for Danza in the Arkansas Derby -- and it's very unlikely to be duplicated In Kentucky today.

Legendary Washington Post racing writer Andrew Beyer likes Wicked Strong today. Trained by Jimmy Jerkens, who with a Derby win today would accomplish something his legendary father Allen famously couldn't, Wicked Strong rallied from sixth to win his last in the Wood Memorial. But I hate the post position -- the 19 hole might as well have Wicked Strong starting the race in Tennessee.

I'm going to take a flyer today in one of the longer shots on the board -- a deep closer named Dance With Fate, who came late from the back of the pack with a powerful sweeping move to reel in 10 horses and take down the Grade 1 Bluegrass Stakes in his last.

A 20-1 morning line will reward the bold today. And Dance With Fate's jockey, Corey Nakatani -- who is a record 0-16 in the Derby -- is due, to say the least.

paul.wiecek@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @PaulWiecek

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 3, 2014 C4

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Gary Lawless & Ed Tait try not to bleeping cry over the woesome Jets

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A Great Horned Owl that was caught up in some soccer nets in Shamrock Park in Southdale on November 16th was rehabilitated and returned to the the city park behind Shamrock School and released this afternoon. Sequence of the release. December 4, 2012  BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
  • A  young goose stuffed with bread from  St Vital park passers-by takes a nap in the shade Thursday near lunch  –see Bryksa’s 30 day goose challenge Day 29-June 28, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Should Premier Greg Selinger resign?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google